#AdventwithClowns Day 1: In the Heights (2021)

This Advent I am going to try to showcase some of the online theatre content that’s still available, particularly now as Omicron approaches, starting with the film version of In the Heights

“That’s señorita to you”

Whilst fully appreciating the concerns raised at the lack of Black Latinx representation in a film set in a New York neighbourhood where they make up a substantial proportion of the population, it does feel a bit of a shame that so much of the discourse around In the Heights focused on it, possibly to the detriment of its box office. When there’s so little representation available from Hollywood studios, you want something like this to succeed regardless but with that representation at a premium, it’s no wonder that those who are still left out want to make their voices heard.

These problems around colorism aside, Jon M Chu’s film of Quiara Alegría Hudes and Lin Manuel Miranda’s 2005 musical remains a fairly curious choice for adaptation. The story isn’t one of the conventional narrative arc, it really is more of a feeling, a mood, a slice of life from the predominantly Dominican neighborhood of Washington Heights. We follow a whole range of characters as they follow their dreams, no matter how big or small, from life-changing decisions to getting an ice-cold drink to ease a heatwave but the focus is on the micro-, offering a warm personal hug. Continue reading “#AdventwithClowns Day 1: In the Heights (2021)”

News: Hamilton film to premiere on Disney+

It wasn’t meant to be airing until late 2021 but the filmed version of the Broadway production of Hamilton will now be airing this summer. With the cinematic release of In The Heights being pushed back to next year, it means that Lin-Manuel Miranda will still get his chance to take over our households once again.

The film was made with the original Broadway cast (whom I was lucky enough to see) just two weeks before Miranda left the cast. And as it turned out, I saw Javier Muñoz as Hamilton so this means I’ll finally get to see Miranda delivering the music, lyrics and book he wrote and for which he has subsequently won every award going. Continue reading “News: Hamilton film to premiere on Disney+”

Album Review: In The Heights (2008 Original Broadway Cast Recording)

“Reports of my fame
Are greatly exaggerated
Exacerbated by the fact that my syntax
Is highly complicated cuz I emigrated from the single greatest little place in the Caribbean”

The massive success of Hamilton didn’t come as too much of a surprise to those of us who saw and loved In The Heights, Lin-Manuel Miranda’s preceding show which took Broadway by storm in 2008 and lit up the Southwark Playhouse in 2014 before transferring to the King’s Cross Theatre in 2015 where it continues to delight audiences with its heady mixture of sensual heat and community spirit – and its ideal listening in the middle of a roasting summer.

Quiara Alegría Hudes’ book may not be the most dramatically exciting – the story is set over 3 days in a heatwave in the Dominican-American neighbourhood of Washington Heights in New York – but for me, that’s why it works so well. It’s a genuine ensemble piece and the beauty of the show is that we get a snapshot of so many peoples’ lives and how they all intersect during both everyday moments and more crucial ones. Continue reading “Album Review: In The Heights (2008 Original Broadway Cast Recording)”

Album Review: Hamilton (2015 Original Broadway Cast Recording)

“Let me tell you what I wish I’d known”

I can understand why people might be feeling a little Hamilton-ed out with more than 12 months to go until it opens at the Victoria Palace and no let up in the hugely successful Broadway run, even as the original cast members are beginning to scatter. I even sometimes think I feel that way myself but the minute I pop the cast recording on to listen to a song or 3 or even the whole damn thing because I can’t resist, I am swept up once again in Lin-Manuel Miranda’s genius.

Part of this comes from the care and attention that was put into creating the Official Broadway Cast Recording, multiple recording sessions over several days were put in with The Roots on production duties, ensuring the layered complexity of every aspect of the score was preserved on record. And it is densely packed, it needs, nay demands, multiple listens to unpack not just the lyrical content but also the musicality, the richness of the orchestrations and how detailed they are. Continue reading “Album Review: Hamilton (2015 Original Broadway Cast Recording)”

Review: Hamilton, Richard Rodgers Theatre

“I’m crossing the ocean and I just can’t wait”

Where to begin? Could anyone have expected the phenomenal success of Hamilton? Turning into the biggest Broadway hit of an age, accepting invitations to the White House, reinventing day queue culture, being the subject of made-up scandals, winning Grammys, all while radically challenging traditional notions of musical theatre. The build up of such hype has been thrilling to see but also poses questions like ‘could it really possibly be that good?’. And ‘how on earth does one get tickets for find out for oneself?’.

In short, the answers are yes and by booking months ahead in my case. I deliberately hadn’t listened to the original cast recording when it was released as I wanted to experience it for the first time on stage and knowing full well that I would get to see it one way or another, I also denied myself any of the multifarious online offerings so that the first I saw of Hamilton would be as the curtain rose at the Richard Rodgers Theatre. And I have to say the anticipation and delayed gratification was completely worth it – that said, I’ve struggled to write about the show in a satisfactory way (“I will never be satisfied…”) so treat this as an outpouring rather than a review. Continue reading “Review: Hamilton, Richard Rodgers Theatre”